Aug 10, 2009

WORD OF THE WEEK: Happy Birthday!

I guess this week's word is actually a phrase—and it's one you're likely very familiar with: Happy Birthday!

Today is my mother's birthday, and I'm blogging much later than I normally do, because I took the day off to spend with her. We had so much fun, traipsing around Indianapolis, visiting the downtown canal area and the Indiana State Museum. It was there that I got the inspiration for today's blog topic in the museum's international exhibit area.

Happy (pronounced HA-pee—with a short A sound as in cat) comes from the 14th century Middle English word hap, meaning fortunate, felicitous, glad, pleased, or friendly. Often, when used in combination, it can mean obsessed (as in "trigger-happy" or "sale-happy.")

Then there's birthday. This word originated from the same era and can literally mean the day of someone's (or sometimes some thing's) birth (the exact birthday of Google is debatable, though the company consistently celebrates in September); it can also mean—as it does for my mom today—the anniversary of that person, place or thing's birth or origination. It's pronounced BERTH-day. Click the pronunciation links to hear these words sounded out (in case you were born yesterday).

The birthday is universally celebrated, with few exceptions. In honor of that fact and today's international museum exhibit, here are some international birthday phrases. Can you guess which languages are being used below?

¡Feliz cumpleaños!
Joyeux anniversaire!
Buon compleanno!

For the answers—and many other international versions—go here. Happy birthday, Mom!

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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